Standard Lithium, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company seeking to extract lithium from brine pumped from thousands of feet beneath south Arkansas, said Monday that its direct lithium extraction process at its El Dorado demonstration plant had a recovery rate of 96.1% in July and August.
The recovered lithium chloride contains other materials; Standard Lithium says their process resulted in less than 1% of contaminants like sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium making it into the lithium solution, and more than 95% of boron was rejected.
Each liter of product contained more than 10 grams of lithium. It was shipped to a processing facility and successfully converted into lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide that can be used in commercial batteries, the company said in a news release.
Standard Lithium has named its direct lithium extraction process, developed in collaboration with Koch Technology Solutions, "LiPROTM LSS." The process has completed more than 8,000 operational cycles. By the end of September, the El Dorado plant had processed nearly 15.5 million gallons of brine pumped from the Smackover formation and then reinjected it once the lithium had been extracted.
Chief Executive Officer Robert Mintak said this summer that a 42-gallon barrel of brine yields around 1½ ounces of lithium. If that figure is accurate per their process, the company could have processed enough brine to yield 7.67 tons of lithium from the brine they've processed around the clock since May 2020. The September price of battery-quality lithium would have valued that yield at more than $200,000.
The company says the findings from the demonstration plant show the necessity of long-term, on-site, continuous processing of brine, rather than doing it in small-scale batches off-site. The company said running the El Dorado plant has allowed it and Koch to optimize the process and allow it to be scaled up for commercial production.
Standard Lithium also has land for lithium extraction in Lafayette County.
"Over three and a half years of rigorous testing and integrated process improvements have provided us with unrivalled knowledge of lithium extraction from Smackover brines," company President Andy Robinson said. "Systematically tackling the technical challenges of continuous operation and scaling-up has prepared us for a smoother transition to commercial production."
"The continuous performance of the Plant, over a sustained period of time, has exceeded our expectations and allows us to move our projects forward confidently," he said. "We now have a tested and proven DLE technology and integrated flowsheet that we can apply across our series of world-class Smackover assets with our current and future partners "